Where lore and legend meet unique ecosystems of incredible natural beauty
The haunting beauty of Greece’s alpine lakes gave way to legendary tales of mythical creatures that once inhabited them. Locals call them “Dragon Lakes” (Drakolimnes) because they are believed to have been created by dragons throwing stones at each other, hence creating spectacular landscapes. Each dragon lake, bears the name of the monster that created it.
These lakes are in hard-to-reach locations, mostly on the Pindus mountain range at Epirus and West Macedonia. Nature lovers appreciate them for their unique beauty, however scientists – who believe that they are remnants of the Ice Age – are drawn to the lakes to study the interesting mix of nutrients in their waters as well as to explore their strange ecosystems.
Tymfi Dragon Lake (Gamila)
Located 2,050 meters on Mt. Tymfi, between the Aoos River and the Voidomatis, in the reserve area of the North Pindus Range of the Gamila crest (Tymfi’s highest peak). The story goes that two dragons once lived here and threw stones at each other to create the Tymfi Dragon Lake that is black-colored with scattered white stones and the Smolikas Dragon Lake that is white with black scattered stones.
Smolikas Dragon Lake
It is 2,200 meters up Greece’s second highest mountain, Smolikas. It is 2,000-4,000 square meters in size and is very deep. The heart-shaped lake has a deep blue color. Legend has it that it was created during the war between the Mt. Tymfi dragon. The locals ay taht the Smolikas dragon finally won by tricking his opponent. Instead of throwing rocks he threw salt balls that the lead to the Mt. Tymfi dragon’s demise.
Gistova Dragon Lake
Greece’s largest alpine lake lies at 2,350 meters in altitude and is near the border with Albania. Locals say that a good-natured dragon created the lake after he shed tears following his eviction from the nearby village of Grammos.
Arenon Dragon Lake
Nestled in the lust beech forest of Moutsalia, the emerald green lake is on the border between the districts of Ioannina and Kastoria. It isn’t easy to spot. The lake surface spans over 15,000 squared miles but it is just a meter in depth allowing visitors to literally walk through it!
Flenga Dragon Lakes
The twin lakes are located at Mt. Mavrovouni’s subalpine zone at a height of around 1,940-1,960 meters. Spring waters at a higher level feed into the lakes. Local lore says that Makedonas, the son of Zeus or Aiolos, had three sons – one of which was Pindus. The two brothers envied Pindus and hatched a plan to kill him, but Pindus found out at the eleventh hour and fled up the mountaains. He lived off the land by hunting and befriended Lygos, a dragon. The brothers ambushed him and killed him in the dragon’s absence. The beast’s tears formed the twin lakes.
The swirly lake, near the village of Aspropotamos, is at a altitude of 2,050 meters and covers an area of 10,000 square meters. It is formed from the ten serpentine waterways that are the sources of the Acheloos River. Naturally, the dragon in this lake was snake-like. He was a sinister creature that remained unseen, springing out from beneath his rock from time to time to ambush and devour a local.
The impressive lake lies near Agrafa village that looks like a dragon’s eyeball was created in 1963 when the earth collapsed, slowly creating a basin filled with water.
This unique creature of the dragon lakes is a type of salamander in the class of amphibians. The 10-12 centimeter long creature inhabits the lakes as the successor of the dynastic dragons that are believed to have created them.